So we are all pretty familiar with the struggle of maintaining a healthy balance between school, work and our social life. Shockingly this is something experts refer to as the Work/Life balance, no pun intended. If you aren’t familiar with what the Work/Life is right now then I will briefly explain it. The Work/Life balance is essentially a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and aspirations) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation). The thing with being an undergrad/graduate student with part or full time job on top of school is where the concept gets a little trickier. While I was doing research on this topic I found a good quote from Carol Hoffman, an Associate Provost & Director of Columbia University’s Office of Work Life. She says in regards to a graduate program “It’s never going to be truly balanced, and it makes people feel bad when their professional and personal lives aren’t perfect,”. This made me really think about how to achieve this balance because if you’re on the route that I plan on taking then doing a masters program, working a full time job and trying to have some semblance of a social life is going to be a stressful challenge in itself. So I decided to do some research on how to achieve this balance as best as possible and want to share it with any students, and working adults for that matter, who want to have this balance as well.
Give Yourself a Break
So first thing is first, you have to cut yourself some slack and don’t have huge expectations of yourself that aren’t going to be manageable. Having the kind of balance that you want to have at first is going to be very challenging and you need to go ahead and plan on having to make compromises and expect at some times for when your workload is going to increase, whether it be at work or school. One of the things that you can do to keep you going is to reward yourself with a nice dinner or a night on the town to keep your mind happy and your body energized. Having a rigorous education schedule and balancing your professional career can deplete your energy and take its toll on your body and mind, so have conversations with friends and family frequently so that you don’t feel disconnected from the social connections in your life and use this external support to keep you focused and feeling good.
Use your Online Options
So in today’s world the internet is a very powerful resource to take advantage of. Many schools offer some, or all, of their Masters and Graduate programs. This opens up the opportunity to go to school from home and work your program around your professional schedule. This also takes care of many childcare issues that some people might face if they have to balance all of these things on top of taking care of a child/children. So don’t let a heavy work schedule deter you from going back to school or wanting to have a social life. Online classes were pretty much made for people to balance other parts of their lives while continuing their education. Another option is if your company offers you to work from home. Same with online classes this allows you to control your work schedule and work the hours that work for your schedule.
Manage Work Expectations
So this is something you can do to lean on your professional contacts. If you’re working part time, and possibly full time, you could talk to your manager or your superior and try to adjust your work expectations to fit your school schedule, which in turn allows you to have more time for social time. You should inquire about relegating responsibilities, flextime if it is available/possible and like I said earlier, working from home. Another set of contacts you can lean on are your professors or the person in charge of your program. Universities are usually pretty understanding with people who are looking to complete a graduate program as well as working part/full time and will usually be able to accommodate your school schedule around your work responsibilities. Your school community can be a major source of support for you, especially if you’re continuing your education at the same place you did your undergrad.
These tips have been of great benefit for me and have helped keep my focus on what is important to my career. I hope that you find these tips useful and also an encouragement for balancing your own work/life situation.